When waterways and shipping channels need to be widened or deepened, the dredge crew are responsible for doing so. A dredge is a vessel equipped with a device that scrapes the seabed to gather sediment and soil. Dredging makes coastal and inland navigation possible for commercial vessels, container ships, and other vessels that carry cargo. Dredgers are vessels used to excavate the bottom of rivers and shallow coastal waters to prevent buildup of sediment in the water.

Dredge workers contribute to the commercial fishing sector and to construction projects – for example, dredge vessels collect sediment that can be used to replenish beaches. Dredging is used to catch and harvest clams, oysters, and other sea creatures making it an important aspect of the commercial fishing economy. Additionally, dredging is difficult work, workers endure long hours under demanding conditions and working with powerful machinery (e.g., cranes, clamshell grabbers, etc.) that can cause severe injuries and fatality if there’s mechanical malfunctions or carelessness during operation.

Although it is common for dredge workers to work near shore, the dangers can still be as severe as deep-sea operations. Many maritime workers (e.g., seamen, deckhand worker, etc.) sustain fatal and severe injuries during dredge accidents. At times dredge accidents are the result of negligence by vessel owners, other responsible parties, or because the dredge vessel was unseaworthy. If you sustained an injury during a dredging operation or because of mechanical malfunction or another crew member’s negligence, it is crucial to seek the help of an attorney. As with many other careers in the maritime sector, dredging is no stranger to accidents, severe injuries, and in some instances worse, the death of a crew member.

Seattle, WA Dredger Accident Lawyer

Ships need navigation channels to be able to leave and enter ports efficiently, quickly, and safely. Underwater excavations are done because not all rivers or harbors are naturally deep. Dredging vessel and workers establish a channel, and the work must be done periodically to keep the channels clear and safe for navigation. Without dredging many harbors and ports would not be accessible to passenger and cargo ships. The environmental work dredge workers perform is vital to the maritime commerce and industry. Unfortunately, accidents, injuries and illnesses are common onboard dredge vessels. If you sustained an injury while working on a dredging vessel, consulting with a qualified maritime attorney can help you determine what policy protects your rights for compensation.

When you retain an attorney from BOATLAW, LLP, you gain a skilled and experienced maritime team that will use their resources to provide you with just compensation. Our dedicated admiralty lawyers are here to help you. We have offices in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California and Portland, Oregon. Our maritime attorneys are ready to fight on your behalf, so that you can recover. BOATLAW, LLP is here to help. For a free confidential consultation contact BOATLAW, LLP by calling 1-800-262-8529 or by filling out an initial contact form.

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Common Causes and Injuries of Dredge Accidents

Regardless of where you operate, working on a dredge vessel is a dangerous occupation. Nevertheless, much like other forms of maritime occupation, dredging can carry numerous hazards and risks that can have the potential for accidents, injuries and in some cases worse.

Below are some of the common accidents onboard a dredging ship or during a dredge operation:

  • Blockage in Dredging Pipelines – Various dredge vessels use different and complicated vacuums and tubes to transport the sediment from the bottom of the body of water to another location. These vacuums and tubes can get blocked and clogged by sediments if not properly maintained. Also, poor maintenance can lead to a breakdown causing the pipe to burst. Maintenance is crucial but also risky, loosening the clogs can lead to severe injuries – loss of limbs – if the correct safety equipment is not provided and if crew members are not properly trained.
  • Burst Pipe – The vacuums and tubes use pressure and if a pipe bursts or a valve fails the force from the high-pressure water coming from the pipe can be fatal.
  • High Pressure Water – Certain kinds of dredge vessels often use high-pressure water jets to make a path in shallow rivers for smaller boats. The high-pressure water jets can cause severe injuries to workers if the water is not correctly shut off. Moreover, it can cause damage to the vessel which can complicate matters. An error or carelessness can cause a crew member to sustain injuries such as broken bones or torn ligament.
  • Improperly Trained Crew member – Dredge vessels need proper maintenance just like other vessels. Nevertheless, crew members should be properly trained on how to use the tools, equipment, safety procedures, etc. If the vessel owner does not train the crew members onboard the vessel it can lead to incidents and injuries to other workers. Incorrectly handling equipment can put others onboard the vessel at risk of sustaining injuries (e.g., loss of limbs/amputation).
  • Fishing Dredges Injuries – Dredge vessels contribute to the commercial fishing sector and many dredges are made to collect shellfish (e.g., crabs) off of the bottom of a body of water to process into other materials. This can be extremely dangerous because crew members are at risk of lacerations from hooks used for netting, being crushed by crabbing pots, drowning, falling overboard, and broken bones from the equipment being used to control the nets.

Some of the injuries sustained from dredge vessel accidents can be severe and costly – if not worse, deadly. Sustaining an injury as a maritime worker can be fatal, the industry has rewarding and dangerous occupations, being a dredge worker is one of them.

Below are some common injuries from Dredging accidents:

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Attorney for Dredge Accidents in the Pacific North West

During dredge vessel operations, workers are vulnerable to their environment. Many things can prove dangerous, if not fatal. Any minor carelessness from a crew member or the vessel owner can be catastrophic for the worker. Safety should be a primary concern at any job. Nevertheless, dredging combines the heavy use of machinery and the unpredictability of the water, making workers susceptible to spinal cord injuries, amputations, and much more. If you have been injured during a dredging operation because of the carelessness of a crew member or because the vessel was unseaworthy, having an attorney by your side can make all the difference. You may be entitled to compensation. At BOATLAW, LLP, our attorneys can help you and your family navigate through your difficult time. We work tirelessly for our clients and provide honest representation for those affected by maritime accidents.

If you were in a dredge accident, it is crucial to consult an attorney. It is important to hold the party liable for your injuries. After an injury or the tragic loss of a loved one, having an experienced and seasoned maritime attorney by your side can help you focus on recovery while they tackle your legal and financial worries. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you determine liability, what maritime laws apply to your case based on the facts surrounding your injury and be a source of support and guidance. At BOATLAW, LLP, we help our clients every step of the way. Before accepting any form of settlement, consult with an experienced attorney, contact BOATLAW, LLP. Our attorneys can help you determine what would be a beneficial course of action based on your specific case. For your free initial consultation with our experienced Washington, Alaska, California, and Oregon maritime injury attorneys call 1-800-262-8529 or fill out an initial contact form.

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This article was last updated on Thursday, July 16, 2020.